Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Expenditure on Turf in Kerry.

asked the Minister for Local Government and Public Health (a) whether he has seen the statement of the acting County Manager for Kerry that the total expenditure on turf was £230,290, that the receipts amount to only £70,597, that Fuel Importers, Limited, owe the council £30,000; (b) what steps have been taken, in accordance with the answer of the late Parliamentary Secretary on December 9th last, to liquidate as rapidly and as profitably as possible the saleable remainder of the turf, whether by export or by local consumption; (c) whether he can give any estimate of the quantity of the turf on hands which may be deemed unsaleable; (d) whether he is aware that in connection with the turf scheme this council has incurred a large overdraft, and (e) what steps the Government proposes to take to come to the assistance, financial and other, of the council.

I have not seen the statement referred to but I understand that such a statement was issued. The rate of disposal of turf is affected by weather conditions as well as demands on transport. The period December to March is not a favourable one for the removal of turf. From the 9th December, 1942, to the 18th March, 4,090 tons of county council turf were disposed of to Fuel Importers, Limited, and 72 tons to other purchasers. It is likely the rate of delivery to Fuel Importers, Limited, will increase from now onwards. I am not in a position to give any estimate of the quantity of turf which may be deemed unsaleable. There is a considerable quantity which is not suitable for export from the county to non-turf areas, but it is to be expected that the county manager will do everything possible to secure that it is disposed of locally at a fair price. Accordingly, although the present overdraft is large, it should eventually be liquidated by the sale of the turf on hands and by adjustments based on reasonable costings of production, of the present scale of charges to Fuel Importers, Limited, when the full quantity is disposed of and the financial position definitely ascertained. In Kerry, as elsewhere, the Government guarantee already given in regard to loss on turf produced by county councils for export to non-turf areas is a continued one, the only condition being that reasonable precautions have been taken by county councils in the production of such turf. The disposal of the turf will be speeded up within the next two months.

In reference to the Minister's answer to paragraph (b) of the question, will he say what steps were taken by the turf control body here to secure that the liquidation which the Parliamentary Secretary mentioned on the 9th December did take place? Have any steps been taken in that direction?

I have pointed out in the reply already given that Fuel Importers, Limited, have purchased 4,090 tons of turf, and that the county manager has been able to sell 72 tons to other purchasers.

Have Fuel Importers, Limited, purchased the unexportable turf?

The reference on the 9th December was, I think, to the liquidation of that portion of the turf that is unexportable. Have any steps been taken since about the turf which was then described by the Parliamentary Secretary as being unexportable?

I have not the exact words of the Parliamentary Secretary before me, but I do not think the Parliamentary Secretary did bind Fuel Importers, Limited, to buy unexportable turf because that would mean purchasing turf that would be unsaleable outside the county of production.

In fact, the Minister has the words of the Parliamentary Secretary before him.